One can’t begin talking about Command and Conquer : Tiberian Twilight without first remembering the history of the C&C series. The original Command and Conquer came out fifteen years ago (1995) and was created by Westwood Studios, now part of Electronic Arts.
While the series throughout its history had some non-RTS style games, like the first person shooter Command & Conquer: Renegade, it mainly stuck to a well tested formula of strategic game play. This changed little throughout its history, with the main adjustment being the transition to polygonal 3d graphics. Lucky for us, this opened the door to stereoscopic 3D gaming!
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Twilight attempts to break away from its tried and tested formula, and instead focuses more on a smaller number of units. Unit “levelling” is heavily focused on in multiplayer, and is a pre-requisite for completing the single player campaign. Is this new, more arcade style of strategic game play the future of the franchise? We shall see!
General Game Review
Command and Conquer : Tiberian Twilight focuses on the Tiberium (Brotherhood of NOD V.S. the Global Defence Initiative) as opposed to the Red Alert franchise where the conflict is between the Allies and the Soviet Union.
The biggest change C&C veterans will notice is the dramatically smaller scale of the gameplay – you control fewer units, and the number is determined by the limited number of command points you have acquired. You can build these units from your mobile base, a single structure that can be moved around the map.
Instead of the classic barracks or science lab, you deploy one of three classes of mobile bases. Each base deployment requires you to destroy the previous one. Why the bases don’t fly away the same way they arrive puzzles me. An essential part of passing the single player campaign is getting more command points through online game play. You can also invite online friends or strangers to help you cooperatively pass the single player mode.
Not all is as simple as it seems, as finding people to help you pass the gruelling final missions can be, well, gruelling. However, this does introduce a new social dynamic element to the game, and allows players to cooperate in finishing the missions. Unfortunately, inexperienced team mates might be a hindrance rather than helpful, so pick your friends wisely!
Ever since the creation of Command & Conquer, real-life acting has been a part of these games by providing a rewarding interlude between levels and giving you more info while on a mission. Actor Joe Kucan, also known as “Kane”, returns for C&C 4 and adds to the dark and gloomy atmosphere of the game. While the general scenery, 3D models, and music all try to present a dystopian, fatalistic, and gloomy type of future, the gameplay and most of the acting portrays the exact opposite, giving C&C 4 a more childish feel...a dark and gloomy childish feel. Does that make sense?
Maybe it's a sign of how far video game graphics have come because the live action sets and acting suddenly look inexpensive relative to the sharp looking 3D models used during the game.
Having thrown out all the previously cherished core principles of strategy games, C&C 4 tries to reinvent the genre. There is no resource collection whatsoever, and your success or failure depends on how well you will be able to counter the enemy. This means redeploying one of three classes of base crawler: offence, defence, and support. When the opportunity finally presents itself, rush the enemy!
All things being equal, the graphics were nicely done! The amount of work that went into the 3D modelling and texturing is very noticeable and everything looks very pretty...in a gloomy, post-apocalyptic sort of way. The unit design definitely impressed me.
Only after you have access to all of the units, you can begin to appreciate and enjoy the multiplayer mode – especially the team oriented game play. Unfortunately, you can't experience this the same way until you have enough command points. However, even then the success or failure of your allies will determine how well you will be able to counter your enemy's tactics.
Nvidia Stereoscopic 3D Findings (By Neil Schneider)
Maingear X-Cube Intel Core I7 Processor 2.66GHZ 6GB RAM GTX 470, GTX 275 (PhysX) Windows 7 64 Bit NVIDIA 258.96 Stereo Driver NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision / Acer GD235HZ
I'm afraid Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision users are out of luck with Command & Conquer: Tiberian Twighlight. First, the convergence controls don't work at all, so at best, you are limited to a depth only experience. In fact, the settings are locked down in a way that forces the HUD to be split 100% of the time. The display occasionally has vertical cut-out problems on the left and right sides of the screen - almost as though there aren't enough graphics to cover the entire screen space.
Other errors include missing lights or just lighting in one eye, name tags at screen depth, and burn marks on the streets rendered at screen depth - or even with reversed left/right polarity.
The best results are achieved when you reduce VFX to low, and turn shadows off entirely in the display settings. Out of fairness to Nvidia, there isn't an active profile available for C&C 4, so the game has not been optimized yet.
iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D Findings (By Neil Schneider and Yuriy Nikshych)
AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM EVGA GTX285 Windows 7 64 Bit Zalmon Trimon 24" Monitor iZ3D drivers 1.11B2
iZ3D's results aren't much better than Nvidia's. When stereoscopic 3D settings are adjusted, the HUD doubles, lights and markings don't render well, and name tags are shown at screen depth.
Their only advantage is that convergence settings can be adjusted to get rid of the HUD doubling, but the limited 3D experience is a real downer. It's best to turn shadows off entirely and reduce the VFX setting to low.
DDD Stereoscopic 3D Findings (By Neil Schneider)
AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM EVGA GTX285 Windows 7 64 Bit Zalmon Trimon 24" Monitor DDD TriDef Ignition 2.7.6B2 (not released yet)
DDD clearly offered the best experience of the three solutions, though it is still flawed. After reducing the VFX detail to low and turning shadows off entirely, you have the flexibility to achieve a combined depth and pop-out experience.
While name tags are rendered at screen depth and the street burn marks still aren't rendered properly, the game is still very playable in 3D.
While C&C 4 may not be as big a hit as it’s predecessors, you will still enjoy the game when played against an equally matched opponent. In 2D, the graphics are amazing, the music is fantastic, and it’s good to see Kane again!
Does C&C 4 lived up to its full potential? No, but as a unique title without the expectations set by its predecessors, it's still a lot of fun.
The stereoscopic 3D effectiveness grades for DDD, iZ3D, and Nvidia's GeForce 3D Vision drivers are all based on MTBS' 3D Game Analyzer. With the exception of the barely passable 6/10 M3GA score for DDD, the lack of a game profile badly crippled Nvidia's and iZ3D's results down to zero levels. A future profile update (hopefully) would probably make a huge difference in both cases.
Please share your remarks below. Maybe you had better luck with this title? Also, check out the full gallery of C&C 4 3D images. The DDD drivers we used are not yet available to the public, and the game profile is something we developed internally to improve upon what was sent to us. It is attached to the forum review thread.
Stereo gamers, worry not! Other reviews are in the works with titles that perform much better in stereoscopic 3D.